Most people don’t have a clue about how much room a really good model railroad layout takes. So don’t go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff only to find out that it won’t fit in the space you have. Start by researching the line that you wish to model, Then sit down and draw up a basic sale drawing of your layout. I know this can be tedious, but if you skimp here it will bite you in the end. It really pays to know just how much room you have, and buy trains sized appropriately. With that word of caution, the next thing you need to decide is what type of layout you plan to build. There are basically three types of model railroad layouts: the modular layout, the permanent layouts and the multi-level layouts buy nem.
The Modular Layout
Many people today build modular layouts that become a part of an much bigger layout. Usually at a large railroad club site. The modules are constructed to strict standards to ensure that they fit together properly. They are usually built to be 2 feet wide but of varying lengths. There are standards to ensure that the many modules built by different people or groups can be connected together. At the 2008 N Scale National Convention a layout of over 500 modules was set up. If you are interested in this type of layout, here are sites that contain some of the module standards sites: ntrak.org/standards.htm, fremo.org/h0europa-nem/index-en.htm and nvntrak.org/nb/onetrak.php
The Permanent Layouts
As I mentioned earlier in this article space planning is critical and never more so than in a permanent layout. If you don’t choose the appropriate scale to start with, it will make a big difference in your long term satisfaction or dissatisfaction with your project. Many permanent model railroad layouts were built on plywood tables measuring 4×8 feet or larger. The problem with this layout size is that it is extremely difficult to reach the center of the layout and correct and malfunctions that will occur. You should always consider how you will reach the most remote point of your layout.
The Around the Walls Layout
More modelers today are building narrower model railroad layouts that lie against the walls of a room. These usually consist of two foot wide layouts that follow along the walls of the room with an occasional layout including an island that project into the room. Again make sure you can reach all elements of your layout. A common variation on the around-the-walls layouts includes a two-foot shelf above a larger layout table. This allows the trains to move between levels using either a helix or a vertical spiral track.